14 Oct 2013

2013 Ford Mondeo Titanium X Estate TDCi first drive review

Matt Hubbard reviews the 2013 Ford Mondeo Titanium X Estate Business Edition TDCi

2013 Ford Mondeo estate

After I'd driven the Mondeo (for half an hour as part of an industry test day) I sat in the car and recorded a short voice memo to remind me of my thoughts immediately after the drive.  I did the same for all 10 cars I drove that day.

None were so black and white as the Mondeo.  Let's come back to that later.

Ford is doing very well at the moment - the Fiesta and Focus are the UK's best selling cars so far this year and it is, according to Jalopnik, "Kicking All Of Your Asses" in the US.

This generation Mondeo has been around since 2007.  It's due to be replaced in 2014.  Looking at it you wouldn't guess it's a seven year old car.  It's quite a looker with crisp, clean lines and a shape that belies its interior space.  Ford did a cracking job when they created this car.

The wheels look a little small in the arches.  They're 17" alloys.  18" wheels would suit it better.  I also didn't like the colour of the test car.  So many cars are presented in white now - this is Ice White.  I had a play with the configurator.  Deep Impact Blue looks good.
2013 Ford Mondeo estate

The interior is a different story altogether.  From a modern, classy exterior to an interior that definitely feels 7 years old.

The plastic that sits atop the dash in one large mould looks and feels pretty poor.  Various other plastics in the cabin similarly feel cheap.

The infotainment touchscreen is a £450 option, but it should be standard.  For your £450 you get a system that works OK but looks like a 1980s Commodore 64.  The graphics are appalling.

Ahead of the driver is another screen which relays a diluted version of relevant information from the touchscreen.  And it has the same graphics.  Ford has faced criticism in the US for its touch screens.  The European version seems to work better, but looks worse.

The seats are OK, but not as good as in an Insignia or Volvo.  There are some splashes of leather and Alcantara around the interior, but not enough to overcome the bad bits.
2013 Ford Mondeo estate

The interior is large though with plenty of space for the rear occupants, and a massive boot.

The engine is a 2 litre turbo-diesel, or Duratorq TDCi in Ford-speak.  It has 163bhp and 251 lb ft of torque, returns 62.8mpg and emits 119 g/km of CO2.  That's a decent amount of grunt.  0-60mph takes 8.9 seconds.  The gearbox is a 6-speed manual, but you can spec a 6-speed automatic.

Going back to my voice memo, I told myself the Mondeo's interior was poor, but the ride and handling were sensational.

It's absolutely brilliant on the road.  My voice rose as I spoke about it, suggesting Ford's chassis design and tuning department must employ magicians.  The chassis fantastically absorbs lumps and bumps and corrugations, but it swings round corners with aplomb, and hardly any roll.

This is a trick few can pull off without dynamic suspension.  The Mondeo's interior budget was obviously plundered and used on the suspension, chassis and steering.  It rides superbly, it steers superbly and it's a joy to hustle round winding back roads - yet it's an estate with a vast interior.

Swing round a roundabout and the Mondeo clings on, only understeering if you pile in too early.

The engine and gearbox are good too.  The engine has plenty of power and tugs its 1600kg along sharply, although it is slightly too loud.  It's not as agricultural as Mercedes' small diesels but it's loud enough.  Some extra thick sound proofing under the bonnet wouldn't go amiss.
2013 Ford Mondeo estate

The gearbox and clutch work fine together, with a decent feel to the shift and sensible spacing between the gears.

If you can ignore some of the interior design and materials the current Mondeo is a great car.  It'll never be elevated to premium status but Ford has high hopes for the next generation version.  Recently released press shots for the top-end Vignale (which you can see here) show a vastly improved interior with a much better looking touchscreen.  The new Ford corporate grille, which looks a bit large on the Fiesta suits the next-gen Mondeo well.

The car I tested is the Titanium X, which accounts for 50% of all Mondeo sales.  It costs £25,040, which is a good price.  The test car had £4,500 worth of options, including the paint, Bi-Xenon headlights, tow bar, cruise control, the touchscreen, adaptive cruise control and a driver assistance pack.

The final thing I told myself in the voice memo was that it was a fantastic £25k car, but not a great £30k car.  If the interior was better I would value it higher.  The Volvo V60 shares many components with the Mondeo and is similar in many regards, but its interior is vastly superior and the new Volvo touchscreen is one of the best in the business.

You might not be so sensitive to design and materials as I am.  If so the Mondeo is a great car that I'd recommend.  Its strengths outweigh its weaknesses, but only just.

Article by Matt Hubbard

You might also like - Adrian Harding reviews his own 2011 Mondeo TDCi Estate